In September 2020 Hoskins Architects, working with landscape architects guba+sgard and exhibition designers Ralph Appelbaum Associates, won the competition to design the new Laagberg Memorial and Learning Site in Wolfsburg.
In 2017 the remains of former prison barracks, that formed an outpost of the Neuengamme concentration camp, were discovered in the district of Laagberg. In this location, a new place, suitable for remembrance and learning will be created – a site of communication.
Our approach seeks to take an observational position, highlighting the tensions between silence and liveliness (the forest and residential area), processing and forgetting, coercion and self-determination. From an external viewpoint and with historical distance, we ask ourselves how we feel about the present and future handling of the culture of remembrance.
Positioned between a supermarket and a petrol station, the new centre of remembrance and learning is conceived as a "Stolperstein" or stumbling block and a marker of its time. At the place where an electric fence once bordered the camp, a display of memories tells the stories of the individual inmates. The design expands the site via a raised timber walkway along the historic edge of the neighbouring forest. This path defines the measurements of the former camp, making its dimensions tangible via a transverse and a longitudinal axis and allowing the visitor to engage with that which is no longer visible.